Once we got the 440 ready to run with the EFI and supercharger, we fired the engine to break-in the cam. The engine fired right up, but we noticed that it seemed to be running extremely rich. I was monitoring the EFI system on my laptop, and it was reading way too rich. We noticed a lot of white/grey smoke coming from the passenger side tailpipe, and you could tell it was fuel. Suddenly a small fire broke out under the hood on the passenger side. The passenger header got so hot it lit fire to one of the spark plug wires. We shut off the engine and put out the fire. After we got it fixed, I decided to take the car to Burlington, Iowa, to visit my Dad. The car ran fine. I always had the laptop hooked up and running while I drove. While I was in Burlington, I went out to run some errands, and while I was out I decided to do some power tuning for the first time. The very second I put my foot down the engine came apart. There was a huge crack in the driver side of the block, and a big chunk of the block had been blown out. I pulled a valve cover and could see four lifters and pushrods on the driver side. After pulling the intake manifold, I found that an entire section of the camshaft was missing. The pushrods and lifters on the passenger side were also in the crankcase. So with my 440 in ruins, I had to come up with a plan for a replacement bullet. Thankfully, nothing in the top end of the engine got hurt, and my investment in the aluminum heads, the EFI system, the supercharger, and the new exhaust system were ok. I called up the guys at Muscle Motors in Lansing, Michigan, and ordered one of their 493-stroker short-blocks. I was going to try to have the car back on the road in time to make the Mopar Nationals on August 2. The new short-block was ready on July 26, and I drove up to Michigan to get the new engine.
With the engine back in, we went back to the dyno. While we were dyno tuning the engine, we discovered that my fuel system was not up to the task of supplying this engine under full boost. Unfortunately, we didn't find this out until we had done a couple of pulls up to 5,000 rpm, and apparently that was all it took to do damage. The injectors went static (100-percent duty cycle), and the engine leaned out. Too much heat built up and burned off the oil film protecting the sides of the pistons and resulted in heat damage to the number one and number eight pistons. We also had detonation, which smoked the number one spark plug.
So to make a long story short, my fuel lines were just barely big enough to support 600 hp. With the supercharger, I needed at least a half-inch or AN-8 fuel line. what happened on the dyno is my fuel lines simply could not flow enough volume when we went full power under boost, and this is why the injectors went static, and we leaned out. Of course, now besides rebuilding the engine again, I was going to have to fix the undersized fuel system. I decided to go with a really big main fuel line. I would increase my main line size from 3/8- to 5/8-inch. I decided to bore the block .030-inch over, which will increase displacement from 493 to 500 ci. For this new engine buildup, I went with a hydraulic roller cam. The new cam has a bit more duration and 12 degrees of overlap. The increased overlap will bleed off a little cylinder pressure at low speeds, so to compensate I ordered new Ross racing pistons with a smaller 24cc dish to increase static compression ratio from 8.6 to 9.2. This time I had the pistons ceramic coated to give a little more protection against the increased combustion temperatures this supercharged engine can generate.
I sure am getting tired of rebuilding engines for this car, but here we go again. The car goes to a shop called Automekanika located in Spring Grove, Illinois, and is run by Ed Kowbel. The dyno, SpeedLab, is also located in this shop. Because the car was already there for dyno tuning when the engine got hurt, I decided to just have the engine rebuilt there.
After getting the engine all reassembled and running again, I discovered the oil was getting contaminated with coolant. That usually means a blown head gasket. So tear the top of the engine down... again. After tearing the top of the engine down a couple different times, I had the cylinder heads pressure tested. Found out there was a small crack in the number one cylinder's exhaust port that would open up when the head heated up and then would let coolant leak through from the water passage. So I had to have the head welded to fix that. that was the last problem.
With another trip to the dyno, we achieved 783 hp at 5,123 rpm, and 849 lb-ft of torque at 4,424 rpm.